Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Romanian Athenaeum, Bucharest

This early-evening concert opened with ‘Prélude à l’unisson‘ from Enescu’s Orchestral Suite No.1, sonorous and soulful music, played with intensity by the Leipzig strings, joined a few minutes in by timpani. As the Enescu reached its conclusion, a pregnant silence was created, and in stole Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony (I wonder how many times Herbert Blomstedt has conducted this work in his long career), a glorious account, perfectly paced, richly expressive, played to the manner born with dynamism, light and shade, spot-on balances, and with an overall response suggesting that playing this music with this conductor was important, each Leipzig member trusting Blomstedt’s judgement of tempo, structure and shape. The first movement was seen whole, the slow one (in memoriam Richard Wagner) as eloquent and intimate, rising to a majestic cymbal-capped climax (in my experience Blomstedt normally does without Nowak’s percussion, but it’s never too late to change one’s mind), the sad envoi featuring nakedly baleful horns and Wagner tubas. The Scherzo was measured, articulate and powerful, the Trio songful, and the Finale enjoyed continuity across its episodes, welded into inevitability and capped by an arriving-home apotheosis, a phoenix rises, to conclude an engrossing seventy-minute performance.